Technology in the Classroom

Effective Use

Technology is only a tool to getting your students to think about or see a problem/concept in a method they can use to transfer it into long term memory through application and rehearsal.

Plan the Work

When choosing a technology to use in your classroom, you must think about yourself as a learning guide. You will never use something you aren’t comfortable with.

  • Will I be comfortable with placing this tool into my curriculum?

  • Does it fit my teaching style and course objectives?

  • Do I have the time and resources to develop or rebuild items in my curriculum in a different way or style of presentation?

  • Am I comfortable with the time it will take for rehearsal and preparing to present with a new tool?

  • Will it meet my students’ experience, learning style and educational goal?

Your students play a big role in the application of any tool you choose to use. After assessing your comfort level, think about your audience.

  • How might I create a variety ways for students to see, process, and rehearse my learning material and content?

  • Do they have the skill and experience needed to use the technology I choose in the manner I intend it to be used?

  • Is the hardware and software accessible wherever they may choose to use it?

Don’t assume they know more than you about using technology. It isn’t often the case!

When choosing technological tools, you must first decide if you are planning to use the tool in class or as a distance learning option. Some option available include:

  • pictures
  • slide shows
  • videos
  • enhanced Power Points
  • audio and video conferencing

Using the tools in a face-to-face class is helpful because you can demonstrate the use of technology and observe how students use it to learn. It is important to remember that most of these options can be made available outside of class. Students appreciate having resources they can access to increase their learning anytime, anywhere.

“I like the fact that I can pause, rewind, think, work a problem. I can't stress enough how much this online tool has helped me. Last semester was just terrible, I had no idea what I was doing in this class. This semester I actually look forward to class, and I enjoy doing my homework.” -- Student Testimonial

Work the Plan

Once you have chosen a tool, you will need to prepare and integrate the material into your course.

  • Always test material before you use it with students. Use the equipment in the classroom in which you are presenting it so that you are familiar with how to start it and all of the functions you will need.

  • Plan for the time it takes to boot and load material. Boot time on the systems doesn’t have to be dead class time: use this time to give assignments, answer questions, or get groups organized.

  • Have a backup plan. No matter how much you prepare, there is always the potential that something totally out of your control can happen. Your first line of defense in the classroom is a duplicate copy on disk or jump drive. If the network goes down, your resources are otherwise unavailable. Having a print copy is also helpful.

  • Rely on a variety of tools. There is a tendency to want to show off our newest learning, gadgets, and toys. Don’t let good tools in your toy box go unused just because the newest thing is here. Update older class materials by integrating technology - your favorite lecture can partner with podcasting and Smart carts. Students desire a variety of stimuli and will use it to their learning advantage.

  • Make technology comfortable to use. One of the best ways to get your students interested in using technological learning tools is to make it fun for them. Invite students to contribute to content development. A blog or student picture gallery allows each student to take what they know and integrate concepts with others’ knowledge. Students who complete projects quickly can be great peer tutors. Collaboration amongst students and other faculty members enriches everyone’s toolbox and can cause the learning object base to grow exponentially.

  • Always be ready to modify. No matter what you do and how successful you are, you will always find a new way to approach your content. It may be a student suggestion, a problem that isn’t solved, a concern identified on an evaluation, or just a gut feeling. Hitting the save button does not mean your content is written in stone.

Brobst Center for Teaching and Learning Services

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319-296-4018 (F)
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Learning Lab

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Digital Resource Lab

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Brobst Center Staff